Positive growth for Scottish Woodlands in ‘vibrant’ forestry sector
Scottish Woodlands Ltd has enjoyed another year of growth, with continued graduate recruitment and increasing profit.
The company, 80%-owned by its employees, now has 240 staff, and is taking five more new recruits into its Graduate Development Programme in 2023, as it tackles skills challenges by ‘growing its own’.
Scottish Woodlands Ltd is involved in the creation of around one-third of all new woodland in Scotland, specialising in tree planting, forest management, harvesting and landscaping, while also working with utility companies and on peatland restoration projects.
Managing Director Ian Robinson said: “The business is in good shape, which reflects the strength of the wider forestry and timber sector in Scotland. We support the whole process of planting and management of forests and woodlands, and harvesting timber, so our success and that of the industry go hand in hand.”
Company accounts to 30 September 2022 show turnover of £117.26 million, down from £125.14 million in 2020-21 - largely due to the fall in the price of timber. However, underlying profitability remains strong, with operating profits increasing from £4.76 million to £4.95 million.
Mr Robinson said: “There were a number of challenges affecting timber sales in 2021/22, including Storm Arwen (and other storms) in late 2021, and the impact of the Ukraine war on global supply chains. We also saw a reduction in home improvement spending as pandemic restrictions eased, and people spent their money elsewhere - or didn’t spend as the cost of living crisis bit."
“However, all other areas of the business - new planting, forest management, utilities work landscaping and investment - performed very well, and we managed our costs while still growing the business and bringing in new talent. All this is reflected in increasing profitability and strong cash reserves."
“While the business continues to grow, we are never complacent. Our focus remains very clear: providing excellent service to our clients and great opportunities for our people to thrive in this vibrant industry.”
The five new recruits to Scottish Woodlands’ Graduate Development Programme this year takes the total number of recruits to 52 since the programme was launched in 2017. Mr Robinson said this focus on people - clients, customers, and suppliers, as well as staff - was at the root of Scottish Woodlands’ success.
“We recently produced a short video [link] which highlights our deep roots in the Scottish countryside, stretching back a century to the woodland cooperative movement,” he said. “By investing in our graduate programme, we continue to put down strong roots for the future.”
The strategic report accompanying the accounts said: “The underlying demand for wood and wood products is robust and is expected to remain so. These products are increasingly being recognised as a major part of the global solution to climate change through the increasing use of wood in construction and in the drive to meet net zero carbon emission targets."
“With the short-term prospects of a substantial increase in production limited, domestic and global demand is expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future. These factors combine to provide a positive overall outlook with opportunities for continued business growth throughout the UK.”
Scottish Woodlands has 19 different offices, mainly spread across Scotland, but also in northern England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Mr Robinson replaced Ralland Browne as Managing Director in March 2023, with Dessy Henry taking Mr Robinson’s previous role as Forestry Director and Charles Bushby, Neil Crookston and Michael Hall joining an extended Board of Directors to reflect the continued growth of the business.